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COVID-19: Concerns over Alberta’s at-home learning exemptions

Click to play video: 'Concerns over Alberta’s at-home learning exemptions' Concerns over Alberta’s at-home learning exemptions
As Alberta students from kindergarten to Grade 6 prepare to return to at-home learning Friday, not all schools will be making that shift. As Erik Bay reports, Hutterite colony and Mennonite schools will be allowed to continue in-person learning. – May 6, 2021

While most students are heading back to online learning as part of Alberta’s updated public health restrictions, Hutterite colony and Mennonite schools will remain in class.

David Nilsson’s wife is an education assistant at a Horizon Colony school. He says his wife had no warning about the exemption until last night.

“Another relative of mine, who works in the school system in a different school division, said something about the colony schools being exempt,” said Nilsson. “I go: ‘That’s strange, my wife hadn’t heard that yet.’

“Finally last night about 7 o’clock, she got an email.”

Read more: Schools go online as Alberta adds more COVID-19 restrictions for 3 weeks

In a statement, Nicole Sparrow, press secretary for Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange, says due to the lack of technology and equipment required to support online learning, Hutterite colony and Mennonite schools will be allowed to continue in-person learning.

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The statement adds staff and students will be expected to follow COVID protocols when working in schools.

Read more: Alberta education minister ‘truly hopes’ temporary shift to online learning will be the last

Last spring, the government found learning in Hutterite communities stopped during the shutdown, but Nilsson says teachers still taught and believes students can still learn from home, without technology.

“They did go into the schools once a week and mark papers. Other kids are expected to work from home as well and can be given work.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Alberta’s move to online learning leaves some families scrambling' COVID-19: Alberta’s move to online learning leaves some families scrambling
COVID-19: Alberta’s move to online learning leaves some families scrambling – May 5, 2021

Nilsson is concerned about the risk of transmitting the virus, with staff members travelling from outside the Hutterite colony to teach.

Read more: Variants in Alberta schools: An in-depth look at climbing cases and spread

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“My wife is diligent at work to make sure she’s safe,” said Nilsson.

The ministry of education says schools remain safe spaces for learning and they will continue to closely monitor the situation.

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